Q&A Sep 12, 2022

Amplifying the Value of Infrastructure: A Q&A with James Lew

In this Q&A, we connected with Jacobs Managing Director of Built Environment as a Service offering for Foreseeable James Lew to discuss Foreseeable and his plans on developing impactful outcomes by leveraging data.

Q&A with  James Lew  Jacobs Managing Director, Built Environment as a Service for Foreseeable  Toronto, Canada

We caught up with James Lew, managing director of our Built Environment as a Service offering under Foreseeable to discuss this new service offering, his plans to develop impactful outcomes for infrastructure through data-based methods, and three market-facing solutions that lead to transformational changing amplifying the value of infrastructure.

Let’s talk with James:

James, can you tell us about Jacobs’ Foreseeable solution and how does it fit our plans to boldly move the company forward?

Foreseeable fosters and actions an outlook that addresses uncertainty. It reframes how we create and sustain our cities and places in the face of uncertainty by generating outcome-derived solutions. It develops impactful outcomes by using data-based methods to reimage a future that gains from disorder and uncertainty. This ethos is embodied by our three market-facing solutions, which align with strategy to lead transformational change that unlocks and amplifies the value of infrastructure and buildings that helps shape our lives.

  • Future of Places champions the definition of how best to use places.
  • Net Zero Buildings & Nature Positive advocates how best to generate a positive interface between buildings and our planet.
  • Built Environment as a Service focuses on how to best finance, deliver, sustain and generate economic and social value from major improvements in our cities and places.

Entering the post-pandemic world, what do you think is the biggest risk our clients and communities face when it comes to NextGen Sustainability, Future of Place and Built Environment as a Service?

The biggest risk is not recognizing or accepting that our legacy “Business as Usual” (BAU) practices won’t entirely get us to where we need to be in the future, given the concurrent challenges we’re facing and will continue to meet going forward (e.g., climate adaptation, digitalization, social equity, political imperatives.)

A shift in mindset and innovative agency over the built environment must go beyond legacy paradigms. Each of the offerings champions this premise in their stated markets by helping clients and communities understand and develop that mindset. They are action key enablers that address and thrive in disorder and uncertainty (e.g., embracing alternative finance under Built Environment as a Service). These unlock value-creating solutions that “by design” go beyond BAU to achieve greater benefits.

“Who brings differing perspectives on how to generate solutions and grow markets that are clearly needed to solve critical challenges? Jacobs enables and supports the means to do this – it’s the real power behind the brand.”

James (Jim) Lew

James Lew

Jacobs Managing Director, Built Environment as a Service for Foreseeable

What about Foreseeable made you say, “I want to do this as my career”?

It’s “out in front” ideation and market leadership. I’m not looking to apply my knowledge and passion to repetitive facsimiles or artifacts of how we’ve always done things. That simply isn’t of interest to me. It’s very rewarding to collaborate on innovative net-new solutions that create and help define our future.

What advice would you give a young employee that wants to build a better world?

Make sure you can reach out and join a team that’s doing something you’re passionate about – everyone’s effort counts (and should be appreciated.) If you’re not certain where exactly your passion lies in a project team structure, start somewhere and you’ll soon uncover what does and doesn’t align with your personal preferences.

What is your most proud career moment?

Watching others be passionate and embrace something big that you created as a thought. I was asked by a university’s leadership to ideate an innovative research complex on campus for which they could position for and win federal funding. I outlined a bold notion, thematic concept, and its differentiation in academia. Eight months later attended a dinner at the same university, where a high-ranking elected official spoke at length about the same project’s award, even using the tentative name I gave it, followed by several other speakers who enthused about its value to the University, their area of research and their careers. No one in the room of 250 knew its origin. It was exceedingly rewarding to see the impact of my brief efforts. No credit attribution was needed (nor requested) to create this very proud moment.  I’ve since had others like this and continue to be astonished at have had a single idea’s impact.

What is next for the Foreseeable team?

Foreseeable is scaling up for growth in-market by collaborating across the organization. The solutions have started their climb upwards, on a journey to define and grow new market positions for Jacobs. It’s a very exciting time.

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?
Engaging with Jacobs colleagues who are smarter than I am. Who brings differing perspectives on grow generating solutions and growing markets that are needed to solve critical challenges? Jacobs enables and supports the means to do this – it’s the real power behind the brand.

About the interviewee

James (Jim) Lew

James Lew leads the Built Environment as a Service (BEaaS) offering, a transformative delivery enterprise solution for complex programs with infrastructure and real estate assets.

A senior executive with 30 years of experience in infrastructure and built environment programs, James has advised key public and private sector clients on capital finance and alternative project delivery strategies.

He champions the BEaaS solution for large-scale built environment programs by defining, designing, delivering and operating assets across their lifecycle within a value-optimized and integrated ecosystem, for strategic growth in key markets and with select clients.

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